Alternatives to the Civil Service Fast Stream 22/23

It is hard to avoid the recent headlines about the cuts to the number of civil servants in the UK. These plans have touched all areas of recruitment, including the Civil Service Fast Stream which has paused the graduate scheme and will not be recruiting during this academic year (2022/22). They are still running the Summer Diversity Internship Programme and the Early Diversity Internship Programme – have a look for further details about these programmes and eligibility.  

This news will be disappointing for many who had hoped to join the scheme after graduating this year. The Civil Service have been emphasising that this is only a pause, and we hope the programme (or a form of it) will be returning in the next academic year. However, all is not lost! There are still some fantastic graduate schemes for those interested in a role in the civil service and public sector, gaining valuable experience and skills to use throughout your career. This post is a guide to alternatives to the Fast Stream, and perhaps finding a role more suited to you! On top of that, the Civil Service regularly posts entry-level roles on their website, and we provide some guidance below on how to navigate the site. 

Please note that the schemes below (and roles on the Civil Service website) have a UK focus, and some may have application restrictions and therefore may not be open to all King’s students and recent alumni. 

Graduate Schemes  

HM Revenue & Customs Tax Specialist Programme (Deadline: late October 2022) 

  • The HMRC Tax Specialist Programme is an opportunity to resolve disputes, tackle complex tax issues, lead teams and work with a range of senior stakeholders across business and government. Get involved in case work from Day 1 and join a profession with a varied range of career pathways to specialise in, such as policy, investigation, fraud or consultancy! 
  • Come along and meet representatives from HMRC at the virtual King’s Career Fair – they will be hosting a virtual group presentation on Tuesday 4 October from 14:00 – 16:00. 

 National Graduate Development Programme (NGDP) (Deadline: Autumn 2022) 

  • The NGDP is a fast-track graduate programme for bright and passionate individuals who want to make a difference while excelling in their own careers. Participants undertake the programme within a local council in England or Wales, having the chance to work directly with communities, but also to influence policies and plans at a senior level. All while earning a graduate salary and completing a council-specific leadership and management qualification. 

Bank of England (Deadline: to be confirmed) 

  • Start or build your career at the heart of the UK economy – The Bank of England are world-class specialists in economics, supervision, risk, and finance. They offer challenging and rewarding careers in law, research and data, human resources, information technology, facilities, administration, security, and communications. Whilst working for the bank, you will receive high-quality training and develop your skills and experience. Their opportunities include graduate schemes, internships, placements, PhD opportunities, and scholarships.  
  • Bank of England are attending the virtual Government, Public Sector & Policy Fair on Thursday 10 November from 16:00 – 19:00, come along to meet them! Please visit King’s CareerConnect for more details. 

The PSC (Deadline: 23 October 2022) 

  • Interested in applying to work for the NHS, government, civil service fast stream or healthcare graduate schemes? At The PSC you can have an impact in all these areas, from the public sector to private services that benefit society. The PSC is a top tier consultancy with a mission to improve UK public services. 
  • The PSC runs an Associate Consultant Graduate Scheme, as well as summer internship opportunities. 

NHS Leadership Academy (Deadline 31 October 2022) 

  • Join the NHS Graduate Management Training Scheme and make a difference to the lives of millions of people. Our scheme offers you the opportunity to develop into a future leader in one of our specialisms including management, human resources, finance, policy and data analytics. Our trainees work in a range of organisations and types of services. You could be improving patient care in a busy hospital department or developing better ways of using data to improve key services as part of an office-based team.  
  • Come along to meet representatives from the NHS Leadership Academy at the King’s Career Fair on Friday 7 October in The Great Hall (Strand Campus). 

The Dstl (Defence Science and Technology Laboratory) (Deadline: late Autumn 2022) 

  • At Dstl, you’ll be part of the science inside UK defence and security, helping to protect our nation. We employ a broad range of talented people, from specialist scientists and engineers, to analysts, programme and project managers, and finance, logistics, medical and communications personnel. We recruit around 80 graduates and offer around 150 student-placement opportunities every year from a wide range of scientific, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines and backgrounds. 
  • Come along to meet representatives from the Dstl at the King’s Career Fair on Friday 7 October in The Great Hall (Strand Campus). 


Civil Service Webpages 

The Civil Service Careers website offers a comprehensive guide about government departments and agencies, as well as different professions within the civil service. Each profile outlines the work of the unit, offers articles about working in that field and links through to current jobs available. 

It also has a Career Matcher tool, asking you a set of multiple-choice questions based on the different elements of the Civil Service Success Profile Framework. On completion, it provides you with an option of different professions which align with your answers and detailed guides about working within those professions in the civil service. 

The Civil Service Success Profile Framework is a flexible framework which assesses candidates against a range of elements using a variety of selection methods. These elements are Experience, Strength, Behaviours, Technical and Ability. All Civil Service job adverts list which elements and criteria they will be measuring candidates against, therefore it is useful to reference the framework to ensure your application meets the requirements. 

When you click on Apply for Jobs or See our Jobs, it will take you through to the Civil Service Jobs webpage, with a pre-set filter already applied in the search field for whichever profession or department profile you clicked through from. At this point, you can add more filters to narrow down by location, salary, working pattern and job grade.  

The job grade search filter is the place where you can start to understand whether a certain role is an appropriate entry level for you (given your knowledge and experience, along with the Success Profile Framework). Below is a useful explanation of the different job grades by two Civil Servants who have published an Unofficial Guide for applying to roles in the Civil Service: 

  • Administrative Officer/Administrative Assistant (AO/AA) – typically administrative or operational delivery roles. This is a good place to start for those with little-no experience. 
  • Executive Officer (EO) – require you to exercise greater judgement and discretion than in an AO/AA role. You may also hold individual responsibility for pieces of work within a programme or project. This is generally a good level for those who’ve just graduated from university/higher education, are seeking apprenticeships, or looking to advance from an AA equivalent role. 
  • Higher Executive Officer (HEO) – typically responsible for overall management and co-ordination of a discrete area/activity. This requires a greater level of management, organisational and independent working skills as well as more in-depth analysis to identify issues and solutions from a range of options. This position typically suits graduates with 1-2 years’ work experience or candidates with some experience in the field, depending on the role and department. 
  • Senior Executive Officer (SEO) – typically work on more complex tasks with more senior advisory and/or policy responsibilities, or wider ranging managerial responsibilities than HEOs. This requires greater specialisation and can involve working across several work areas. You may also manage teams and their workloads, and delegate tasks. 
  • Grades 6 and 7 (G6 &G7) – experienced officials with significant policy responsibilities. 
  • Senior Civil Service (SCS) is the most senior grade of the civil service. This includes Deputy Directors and above. The application process is different for SCS roles and not covered here. 

Source: “Entering the Labyrinth: An Unofficial Guide to Civil Service Applications” by Nathan White and Joe Oakes 

As mentioned in the guide, Executive Officer (EO) and Higher Executive Officer (HEO) equate best to entry level roles for graduates with varying degrees of work experience. Once you have added your desired filters and clicked Update Results, you will see a list of roles in your profession/department of interest at a suitable level for you. 

It is worth noting here that you can directly enter the Civil Service Jobs webpage by visiting: When you land on the homepage, there are only two initial search functions available: What and Where. Type in an area of interest under What (for example Security or Commerical) and your desired location under Where. This will take you through to a list of roles and give you access to the more detailed filter searches as described above. At this point you can adjust the filters and narrow down your search. 

Hopefully this guide has given you a bit more guidance about the opportunities still available in the absence of the Fast Stream programme. For a look at relevant internships and when they open their applications, look at our recent blog post: Internships calendar for Social Sciences and Public Policy 2022-23.  


We are also running some interesting events over the academic year, including the Focus on Government, Public Sector & Policy Week from 7 to 11 November. This includes Discover Careers Panels about working in Policy and International Relations, Fireside Chats with King’s alum working in public service, a virtual Careers Fair and helpful information sessions. All information about the different events can be found on King’s CareerConnect – visit the King’s Careers Website for more details.